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M-Learning

Learning Styles mobile learning objectThe ability to produce effective multimedia learning applications for technology that is ubiquitous is very appealing. Mobile phones are becoming more technically sophisticated. They can create and play multimedia content: they have larger, high quality, colour screens; many models can now capture, edit and play back video, audio and photographs, and can run Flash-based interactive applications (through Flash Lite). They also have greater storage capacity and networking connectivity, can connect to the Internet and PCs and have Bluetooth and WIFI.

Surveys conducted with University students each Semester since October 2005 show that they own mobile phones that have multimedia and connectivity capabilities in increasing numbers. Harnessing the use of these devices for multimedia learning resources which are known to engage and motivate students could be a powerful way of providing learning materials to students who increasingly have other demands in their life and on their time and need more flexible learning solutions.

Several demonstrator learning objects that work on mobile phones have been produced by the RLO CETL in the first half of 2007. The RLO CETL intends to build on this work to use mobile devices as a significant platform for delivering learning objects developed by the CETL. Learning objects that are small and focused on one clear learning goal provide a natural unit for mobile learning.

Our work has also investigated wider issues surrounding the design of effective mobile learning in higher education, although the findings have implications for FE, adult community learning and work-based learning. This work is linked with the GLO tool development as this approach provides a platform for the semi-automatic generation of mobile RLOs.

The work on mobile learning has been reported in a number of papers. Go to the Press office, Publications and enter 'mobile' or 'm-learning' into the title box and click on 'filter' to view our publications on mobile learning.

If you need any further information, please contact Carl Smith.

Learning with mobile phones at London Met

Photo of Marketing students using their mobiles for an assignment at the Tate Modern

Marketing students using their mobiles for an assignment at the Tate Modern

Overview

This is an overview of mobile learning work currently being conducted by the London Metropolitan University branch of the RLO-CETL. This work has investigated issues surrounding the design of effective mobile learning spaces in HE, although the findings have implications for FE, adult community learning and work-based learning. The thrust of our work is on User Generated Contexts, a term used here to denote a hybrid use of learning objects, user generated content and mobile devices; and in particular to indicate that this combination enables novel forms of reuse and learning on the move. The following projects have been carried out or are ongoing.

Survey

Our earlier work (2005-6) provides some useful baseline data from students at London Met. A mobile phone survey with BA Business Studies students (117) found that 61% thought it extremely useful to be able to learn at any time and place; surprisingly 51% of the students answered positively about the University contacting them via their own mobile for learning purposes; only 23% thought ‘it would be a negative aspect’. Furthermore, our work seems to indicate that learners place a high priority on learning at any time and in any place and are receptive to using mobile learning on their own phones.

Learning hints

Study of Marketing (BA level). Text messages containing ‘learning hints’ were used in our work to help create learning contexts. These included reminders for seminars, course-work deadlines and pointers to online learning resources that could help learners; these were well received by the learners.

Photo of events students learning how to use their loaned mobiles

Students familiarise themselves with the mobile phones loaned to them for an assignment

Study of Learner Generated Contexts

A study of Events and Live Media Industries (MA level). Each student was loaned a Nokia N91 phone to help with an assignment. We used a question­naire to gather data after the assignment had been completed. The results indicated that the student group appropriated the devices; students were very task focused and that the N91s acted as motivation to achieve high grades; the free phone calls enhanced team communication; 73% of learners thought it was extremely important to be able to learn at any time and in any place; 64% of the learners thought that the events checklist (a pre-installed learning object) was helpful; and 74% of learners were positive about the University contacting them via their mobile phone for learning purposes.

Design issues for interactive, multimedia learning objects

This project includes ongoing work on the design, development and evaluation of multimedia learning objects to be used on mobile phones. Underpinning research data shows the value of this to students. Examples have been developed in these areas: How to Reference a Book, Reflective Writing, and Sports Science.

Images from mobile learning objects

Screens from some prototype mobile learning objects

Studies with students have provided very positive feedback. Here are some quotes:

“You can go home on the tube or the bus and just read it.”
“I really enjoyed using it.”
“I thought it was great and really handy.”
“I think it’s got a lot of potential. I would definitely use it if it was applicable to my course.”
“It’s cool.”
“It’s really simple and concise and easy to use.”